What’s the cheapest way to market my business?

This is one of the most asked questions on Google when it comes down to the subject of marketing, but what a shame people want to waste their money by “economising” in this way.

One sure way to reduce your marketing budget is to go cheap, but everyone else goes cheap and you simply end up throwing your money away along with them. They’re all advertising in the same place and doing the same thing as each other, merrily watching the money disappear but wondering why?

Marketing is rarely cheap and it’s arguable that unless you have a decent budget for marketing then don’t enter into the world of business at all. Ok, we’ve all heard of the exceptions to this rule from someone who got lucky, but take a look at the stats and see how many new businesses fold within the first two years. Look a bit closer and see how many of them cut costs with their marketing!

The better question is this:

What’s the best way to market my business?

Marketing is the fuel that drives a business, it’s what gets the phone ringing, the customers visiting, the machines running. Without it you won’t have a business. If you ask the question “what’s the best way to market my business” you will almost always succeed.

Marketing should never be classed as an expense, it is instead an investment in your business that grows with time and care, it is only ever an expense if it doesn’t drive in more business. It’s the most important investment you can make. It’s as much of a good investment as new premises or new machines…. Better in fact! Get the marketing right and you can buy whatever

To discuss marketing ideas and investments feel free to get in touch on:

Check out our knowledge base for more marketing insights:

Conversion Rate Increase

Conversion Rate Optimisation For Engineers

It can be very easy to fall for the latest shiny marketing tools and strategies instead of working with what we already have, I know we’re guilty of it! But let’s face it, the grass always looks greener on the other side… but have you ever spent time digging into your existing campaigns and carrying out Conversion Rate Optimisation?

Conversion Rate Optimisation is all about delving deep into your existing marketing campaigns and getting even more out of them.

People often fall into the trap of thinking a brand new marketing tool or strategy will deliver instant results to their sales, but in reality you stand far more chance of improving turnover by optimising what you already have.

Let’s take Google Ads for instance… even if your campaign has low conversions, it usually has a keyword or advert that is working better than others. Unfortunately, because it’s not producing a high level of sales, it is often overlooked. However, spend some time nurturing the campaign and it could become another high performer!

The same goes for already high performing Google Ads campaigns, you can nearly always get even more out of them through conversion rate optimisation. Even a small percentage increase can produce a large monetary benefit.

Google

Conversion Rate Optimisation isn’t limited to Google Ads, but for now let’s stick with it as an example.

Optimising your conversions can go to immense depths and is probably best suited for it’s own article in the future, but the top-level optimisation can benefit almost any campaign, even if they have a high conversion rate.

For instance, over time your best keywords will rise to the top and the lower quality keywords will drop to the bottom. This becomes easy to overlook if your campaign is working well, but you should take these low performers away and either delete them or move them into their own campaign, as this will give more room to grow the top performers. Look at segregating the top performing keywords out into separate campaigns too, as this will allow you to tailor the entire campaign around those keywords.

We don’t just need to look at the best performing keywords though, we also need to see what the top performing search terms are that people have typed in the trigger the best ads. We can add these to the keyword list where appropriate and filter out the unwanted search terms by adding them to a negative keyword folder.

Next, take a look at the ads themselves and pause all but the top performers, then make different versions of these with new copy and test them in an A/B environment, to see which copy works the best. You can also point these ads to different pages within your website, to see which gives you better conversions.

Once you’ve carried out these changes you should look deeper at the website page that they direct the viewer to and measure how well they are performing. Use Google Analytics to help with this and maybe even add heatmapping software like HotJar to provide a detailed overview of the page and video of the users navigating their way around. There is almost always some page changes that can be made to increase conversions. You can also run an A/B test on pages to see which performs the best.

Although this article has only covered top level changes on Google Ads, the same conversion rate optimisation principles are relevant to other areas of your marketing, including web pages, SEO, social media, brochures, flyers and much more.

These changes are not too complex but they can easily add another 2 – 5% to your conversions, maybe even more! That’s what you call Conversion Rate Optimisation.

Conversion Rate Graph

Conversion Rate Optimisation is all about taking something that converts and improving on it even more. We like to relate it to a seedling where although it’s only small and returning very little, given some time and careful nurturing it can grow into a large fruit producing tree that feeds you for life. But it takes some time, care and discipline.

It’s a system that really works, so if you would like some help or further information on Conversion Rate Optimisation, please get in touch.

You may also find this post of interest, it’s a guide to competitor analysis

Competitor Analysis

How To Carry Out Competitor Analysis

Before we start designing a new website or putting together a marketing campaign, we always carry out comprehensive competitor analysis. This can often come as a bit of a surprise to the client, as their previous marketing agencies have either not told the client they were doing it, or just missed it off entirely to reduce costs!

So what is competitor analysis and why do we say it is so important?

There’s an old saying that there’s no point in reinventing the wheel and there is some relevance here with your marketing or website. Every engineering company has many competitors, so it makes sense to see how well the other companies are doing and working out if you can learn anything from their success or mistakes. For instance, if one of your competitors is attracting huge amounts of high quality traffic and sales, it makes sense to work out how they are achieving this and to implement it for your own marketing.

But you shouldn’t just copy what your competitors are doing, in fact you should go out of your way to avoid this and find your own unique angle of approach. Having an idea of their strengths and weaknesses will help you to avoid falling into unnecessary traps, but will also provide inspiration when it comes to finding your own angle of approach.

Benefits of Competitor Analysis

So, what are the benefits of competitor analysis?

  • You can gain insight into exactly who your competitors are. People can often name a number of competitors who provide the same product or service, however after carrying out a comprehensive competitor analysis, it sometimes becomes clear that there are many other companies all in the same space – competing for the same phrases and keywords, yet are not necessarily a ‘real world’ competitor at all, but an online competitor.
  • You can analyse and take apart their strategies, working out which channels are working right now
  • You can then benchmark your own marketing against them in each channel
  • You can re-shape your marketing strategies and tactics
  • You can learn from their experience and mistakes

Are there any downsides to doing competitor analysis?

No, there are no direct downsides to doing competitor analysis, but one thing you need to be careful of is clouding your own ideas and judgement on the direction of your company and marketing based on your competition. It’s all too easy just to follow the herd and assume what others are doing is correct for you. It may be the right way for them, but it may not be the best way for your company to move forwards, so don’t let the data cloud your own ideas and strategy.

Where To Begin With Competitor Analysis

Where should you begin with competitor analysis?

  1. Identify your competitors. Start off by entering keywords in Google that you expect your company to be found for. Make a list of all the competitor’s websites that are ranking in the first 20 spots.
  2. Input your competitor websites into marketing tools such as Similar Web or SEMRush. This will give you a breakdown of the traffic, where that traffic is coming from, the geo-location of the traffic and much more. Understanding where the traffic is coming from is essential to competitor analysis.
  3. Research how strong your competitor’s brands are. You can get an idea of this by seeing how much branded traffic they receive.
  4. How much of their traffic is organic?
  5. How many keywords are they ranking for?
  6. How much traffic is coming from paid sources such as Google Ads and how much is coming from social media?
  7. Check out their social media profiles and benchmark their stats. Add in the data and every month, visit their social media profiles and see if their audience is increasing or if they have gone stagnant.

Carrying out these 7 steps will give you a good foundation for competitor analysis. You can go more in depth than this but we recommend covering at least these 7 tasks to begin with.

Don’t get complacent after doing it once though… competitor analysis should be an ongoing process, carried out at least once a month. It’s often surprising when you find out who your real online competitors are, they often don’t match the competitors you list off the top of your head, yet these companies you’ve never even heard of are targeting your clients.

Competitor analysis can be quite addictive as you start uncovering facts and figures you had never considered before. You may even end up enjoying the process!

If you found this post helpful, you may also like this one on digital marketing:

MARKETING IN THE WORLD OF ENGINEERING

PPC vs SEO

The lowdown on PPC and SEO

Ok, so let’s start by explaining what each one is:

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation, is all about optimising the pages of your website so they appear higher up in search results on search engines (below the adverts), for certain search terms and keywords.

Google Ads (PPC) – PPC stands for Pay Per Click, and are the ads at the top and bottom of search results in Google. You literally pay to  advertise here, each time a viewer clicks on them.

Both extremely powerful marketing tools, and choosing to use just one of them is not the way to go. How would you even compare, and choose, one of two available tools that each have distinct advantages? You just can’t.

PPC is instant; you have a lot of instant control over it, and you get a lot of data from it – but it costs you money every time someone clicks on your ad, so it’s really important that you optimise your ad so that only the right people are clicking, for the right search terms, which in turn means you’re getting a good return on your investment. This means managing your ads, preferably daily, and not just setting up an ad and leaving it run without any further thought. You’d just be burning money by doing that, basically.

SEO, on the other hand, doesn’t cost you a penny when somebody clicks on you in their search results on Google, but SEO takes time and skill, it is the longer game. You will either need to know how to do SEO or pay somebody to do it. Do not be tempted with link building companies as these can cause a lot of damage.

Why would you use PPC when SEO is free?

Not everyone clicks on the first results they see, and not everyone will click on an ad, purely because they can see it’s an ad – some people want to look at organic search results and scroll down the pages as they see these as having more value to them. This is where SEO comes in. Bear in mind, though, that the internet is a highly competitive market, and everyone wants to be at the top of page 1, so it can take time to get to the top pages using SEO and there’s a lot of skill involved in doing so, so using PPC whilst your work your magic on SEO will give you that instant page one presence.

On the flip side, believe it or not, some people don’t go past page 1, or even the first half of page 1, of their search results. They don’t want to scroll, they just want a quick solution, so PPC really works for these people as they’re right at the top of the search results.

So a mixture of SEO and PPC together is a sure fire way of making sure you’re seen by a wider audience, and a smart idea for your marketing.

It’s all about keywords

With SEO and PPC you are aiming to get your page or advert to the top of the search engines when someone types in a certain word or phrase, and this is where a lot of people fall into a trap of low performance and high costs, as they go for the most obvious keywords. These ‘obvious’ keywords are the ones most people choose for their SEO and PPC, so the competition is high and the cost inflated. So mix your SEO and PPC keywords up a bit, by all means go for a few obvious keywords or search terms, but also carry out some research to find the less competitive words and phrases that won’t cost so much on PPC, or take so long to get you to the top pages with SEO. You may also find some real  gems of keywords your competitors have missed!

Keywords Research

Keyword tools and analysis

The way you find the right keywords is not to pluck them out of the air, there are several online tools to help you find keywords based on search results within Google itself. They tell you the estimated search volume and how competitive each of the keywords is.

Another good idea is to carry out competitor analysis on the market leaders in your sector, to see which keywords and phrases they go for. You don’t have to copy them necessarily, but it will give you an idea of where you stand against them.

Conclusion

The leading players in your industry will almost certainly of invested heavily in both PPC and SEO to get to where they are now. You can do the same thing, but neither SEO or PPC is a five-minute job, it takes time, skill and patience, so start now and harvest the results later. Don’t be tempted to play at either SEO or PPC, both can cost you dearly, but running PPC and SEO correctly can take your company to another level.

If you would like more advice then please get in touch and ask to speak with our SEO and PPC team, they will be happy to help you: 01455 561 561.


CNC Machining Engineering Marketing

Marketing In The World of Engineering

Let’s be honest, engineering marketing is a headache. The kind that doesn’t go away after you’ve taken pain killers. But, while challenging, it’s also necessary. Having previously worked on the front line as a Technical Sales Manager, and a Technical Marketing Manager too, I feel like I know a thing or two about this subject. Let’s dig into it:

Marketing for engineers is quite often at the bottom of the list in an Engineering Manager’s day, but nevertheless it needs to be done, so why not do it well and reap the rewards? I’ve worked for companies at both ends of the engineering marketing spectrum; one who invested heavily into their website and digital marketing for their sales team; another who simply gave their sales team samples and a catalogue, told them to hit the road and thought nothing more about it.

I can tell you with absolute confidence that, both then and now, the company that takes their engineering marketing seriously is the company that will come out on top every time.

Imagine sending your sales team out to warm leads, where most of the selling has already been done by your website and marketing material. Instead of turning up to a cold lead, they’ll basically be there to guide the buyer with the purchase – it’s really that powerful.

Engineering Sales Team

Marketing in the engineering sector isn’t like other sectors; it’s not like selling trendy clothing or tools to the DIY trade, where the end user knows what they’re looking for. Engineering is far less tangible than that, which can make the marketing hard. But, equally, the rewards are far higher than other industries, with much greater profit margins when you get it right.

Engineering, in general, has always had a strong word-of-mouth approach to selling, where your customers and/or suppliers refer you to one of their contacts. Back in the day, we all had our own specialism which made it easy for people to refer and recommend us. But, with modern versatile tooling it’s a lot easier nowadays to adapt your skills to another market and skill altogether, so you have far more competition than you ever dreamed possible in the past.

CNC Machining

Basically, now more than ever we need to be promoting our own company and specialisms with engineering marketing, rather than hoping someone else will do it for us.

“But we’re engineers, we’re not into that new digital marketing technology, so why should we bother?”

I can hear it being said now from certain companies I know of!

There are lots of reasons to bother with marketing and, if for no other reason, your competitors are getting into it right now and getting ahead of you. And I’m not just talking about the competitors in the same town as you, I’m talking about competitors across the country, across Europe and across the world. Competitors you probably don’t even know of yet, but they are there and they are marketing into your sector and customers as we speak.

Let’s talk about trade exhibitions for a minute. A popular choice in the engineering industry, we often see engineering companies, tying up their marketing spend in one or two trade shows every year, which is not a good idea! What happens every other day of the year? If attending trade fairs is part of your complete marketing strategy then I applaud you, but if it is their only engineering marketing strategy then I fear for them.

Trade Exhibition

Engineering companies are typically located on industrial estates, the doors are usually locked and there’s no way of looking through the windows. Even if there were windows, what passing traffic do we have to peer in through them? We, more than most other industries, need to create ourselves a virtual window – to show what goes on behind our closed doors and attract new customers in. But equally, we need to make sure our current customers are fully aware of what our capabilities are. How often do we hear that our favourite customer goes down the road for one of the services we too could be providing?

So, where do you start with engineering marketing?

I’m going to break this up into two posts – the first part where we’re gearing up for marketing is here, then the second part where we actually get on with the marketing will follow on. 

Step 1

The first place to start with engineering marketing is to understand what we are trying to achieve, and the advantages it may bring to us if we get it right. Because unless there’s a significant advantage to you, then why would you spend time and money doing it? Have a think about what you want to achieve from your marketing, here’s some inspiration:

  • To keep your position within the market
  • To expand and grow within your current market
  • To increase profit and turnover
  • To cross over into a new market
  • To win more profitable work
  • To gain higher calibre projects and clients
  • To gar your business up ready to sell
  • To increase the productive working hours of your machine tools

Now, this list could go on forever, but make sure you know where your end target is and what it will bring to you and your company.

Step 2

Okay, so once you’ve identified what you want to achieve with your marketing, it’s time to move onto the next stage. Start identifying who you’re going to target with your adverts. There’s absolutely no point in marketing to everybody, as most people won’t have a need for what you produce, but you can start by asking yourself the following questions and building up a profile or avatar of the company, and person within the company, you want to market to:

  • What type of companies would be interested in your capabilities or products?
  • What type of companies do you want to work with? (with digital marketing you can be choosy!)
  • Who within those companies would make the decisions?
  • What job title would they have?
  • What are their day to day challenges that you could fix?
  • Where would they be most likely to go online? Maybe they use LinkedIn or Google, maybe Facebook, maybe exhibition websites… The list is endless.
  • Who are your current favourite customers and why? (you might be able to find others just like them)
  • Are there any crossover markets you’d be interested in working in?
Build Your Customer Profile
Check out our post on creating a client avatar here!

Step 3

 By now, you’re nearly at the point where you can start building up a plan, or strategy, of how you’re going to target these people. But, you need to realise that any engineering marketing activity will almost always drive new visitors to your website, so how’s yours looking right now? What does it say about you as a company? If your answer to that is “It looks okay”, then you need to improve it until it looks great.

Your website will help form the first impression of you, it’s likely it’ll be the only impression in the viewers mind so it’s imperative that you get it right.

One way of tackling this, is to get an independent review of your website from three different marketing companies. Make it clear from the start that you want to pay for the review, and no matter what they say it will not result in them gaining work from you. This way you’ll get more of an honest review of your site, and everyone knows where they stand from the start.

Never ask colleagues, friends and/or family to do this for you, as they’ll just tell you what you want to hear, trust me.

If your website is clean, modern and truly reflects your company, then proceed to step 4. But don’t be tempted to go to step 4 without taking step 3 seriously, otherwise you’ll be back here in no time at all having wasted good money on pointless marketing.

Okay, so by now you know why you’re entering into engineering marketing, you know the type of customers you want to attract, and who within them would most likely be the person to place the first order with you. You’ve also had your website independently checked and you’ve carried out the recommendations suggested.

You’re good to go!

Step 4

 This step is to look at the marketing tools available to engineers and how to select the right ones for your company, as well as how to set them up and measure their performance.

I think this is a good place to stop for now, we’ll be covering all of the above and more in our next insight, so be sure to come back and take a look.

If you would like to ask any questions or need any help with engineering marketing then be sure to get in touch.


Digital Marketing For Your Business

What are the best marketing tools for engineers

Believe it or not, there’s no simple answer to “what digital marketing tools are best for engineers” (sorry).

It’s impossible for me to tell you what you should be using for digital marketing for your business, because the amount of options and strategies that you have at your disposal are absolutely endless.

“So what’s the point of this blog post then, Richard?!”

I hear you say.

Well, I wanted to write this post to help you avoid a very common marketing mistake we see all too often, a practice that costs you money and delivers very little in return.

One of the biggest mistakes that engineers make with their digital marketing, is they look at what other people are doing and follow suit. They look at the tools that others are using, such as Facebook, Instagram, Google Ads etc and they think to themselves:

“I should use that too! It works for Joe Bloggs down the road, it should work for me too”.

And off they go and try the new marketing tool, without really thinking too much about it. We understand the attraction to this in saving time and money, but do you think Joe Bloggs carried out any research on this tool or strategy himself and whether it really was the best option for his business, let alone yours?

Digital Marketing Mistakes

Don’t get me wrong, that strategy is better than nothing. It’s much better to market yourself that way than not at all, but a much better place to start is with a question that goes something like:

“What’s the best way to market to my target audience?”

Just because a certain tool or strategy may work for Joe Bloggs it does not necessarily mean it will work for you, even if you’re in the same industry.

Here is the way we would suggest you approach using new marketing tools.

Ask yourself “who am I trying to attract?”

Draw up an image of your ideal customer / avatar? (even give them a name if you want to!):

  • Who are they?
  • What do they do?
  • What is their gender?
  • Age?
  • Job title?
  • Who do they work for?
  • What pressures are on them?
  • What do they do in their spare time?
  • What challenges do they regularly face?

The more you can think about that person and the more you understand them, the better you’ll be with your marketing. Trust me it works!

Build Your Customer Profile
Check out our post on creating a client avatar here!

Understanding what they do; the challenges and pressures they come up against on a daily basis; will give you a much better understanding of how to market to them, especially in the engineering sector.

Once you have this image of your ideal customer, and once you have an understanding of their issues and/or desires, you can work on the message that you want to get across to them.

You know your capabilities and services inside out, but you need to be able to showcase it in a way that will attract your ideal customer. You need to have quality copy and images on your website to portray the look and feel of a professional business. This is SO important!

Great copy and imagery sells!

Now, if you’ve managed to do this with advertising materials; you need to back it up with a great landing page for the product/service on your website. Because this is where your customer will most likely go next.

Let’s just rewind a little bit…

You’ve got that profile of your ideal customer.

You’ve crafted your marketing media.

Then, and only then, will you be able to choose which are the best marketing tools for your business.

For some businesses the answer could be SEO, some may need Google Ads, or Facebook marketing. I have a long list of digital marketing strategies that I could go through with you today – some are ideal for you and your business, but some aren’t as they’re not where your ideal customer is ‘hanging out’ online, so to speak.

social media icons

But, once you understand your ideal customers, you should start to understand which marketing tools would suit them best as you will know where they go to learn and where they go to  communicate.

An important piece of advice that I feel I should add here, is not to limit yourself to one marketing tool.

Having said that, don’t use too many at once! Our recommendation is to use two or three at the same time, as you might become swamped and overwhelmed. Why do we say this? A vital part of your digital marketing is analysing and tracking your strategies to see what’s working, and what’s not. By doing this, you can alter your ad text, your audience, your targeting etc to suit the data you’re analysing, making your marketing more effective. By only using a few different tools, you can keep on top of this side of your marketing.

Check out our post on combining marketing tools to get results here!

And there you have it; the first steps to successful digital marketing!

Don’t follow what the other engineering companies are doing for their marketing, look at your market place first, then craft your message to them. Then and only then select the marketing tool or platform on which they will best respond to you.

I hope this helps, and I hope you have a better understanding of how to start to use digital marketing for engineering businesses. It takes longer than copying the guy down the road, but boy can it deliver better results!

This is just the beginning of the road though; as you begin your marketing, give each platform a fair chance before swapping it for the next one. Try some AB testing (where you test one advert against another), set up conversion tracking so you can see which ads convert into sales/downloads/filled in contact forms. Then analyse the data, work out which tools and ads work the best, not just in sales, but in return on ad spend and the highest returns on profit margins. The chances of you picking the right marketing tool for engineering, and getting it to convert immediately are remote, but all to often engineers give up on a selected digital marketing tool when they weren’t actually using it right!

AB Testing

Feel free to get in touch with us at Brookstone Innovation if you have any questions about engineering marketing, or if you’d like some help with getting started.


Marketing Strategy

Combining Engineering Marketing Tools To Get Results

In engineering marketing, one thing many marketers seem to underestimate is the power of combining two or more marketing tools into the same campaign, it seems to be a common misunderstanding that one campaign means one marketing tool.

Google Ads, LinkedIn, Facebook Ads and Instagram are popular choices for online marketing in engineering, and while they all have their strengths and weaknesses, sticking to one or two basic methods is not going to get you very far in the end.

Why not combine marketing tools, using their individual strengths, therefore strengthening your advertising? Boom. Lightbulb moment.

social media icons

Google Ads – Google Ads is a ‘pay per click’ online advertising platform developed by Google, where advertisers bid to display advertisements, service offerings, product listings, or videos to web users

Facebook Pixel – Facebook Pixel is a tool that allows you to measure, optimise and build personalised audiences for very targeted advertising campaigns.

Facebook Ads – Facebook ads are the next step on from organic Facebook posts. Facebook ads are targeted to users based on their online history, location, demographic, profile information etc., and can be combined with the Facebook Pixel for extremely targeted advertising.

LinkedIn – Both organic posting and paid ads on LinkedIn can work very well for engineers, but it’s a pool that is heavily fished by engineers, so don’t fall into the same trap as many engineers and purely use this on it’s own, as the competition is huge. Use it as an engineering marketing tool, but don’t rely on it alone.

Here’s an example of when you may combine marketing tools… You have a product/service that isn’t getting enough traffic on your website. You’ve made a landing page that you think is pretty good, but it’s still not getting the number of visitors you want it to.

First thing to do: Check the product/service page on your website

  • Is the information clear?
  • Does the page look good?
  • Does it have lots of information that’s easy to find and read?
  • Is there a good call to action (see our ‘Call to Action Ideas’ post for some inspiration) on the page for visitors to ask for more information, buy your product, get in touch with you etc.?

Once the page is good to go and you’re happy with it (very happy with it), the next step is SEO. SEO is one of the best ways to get traffic to your page/website, by optimising the website for the search engines. The beautiful thing about SEO is that it doesn’t cost money each time someone clicks on it, and quite often they are the first results people go to when searching. But it can take time to build up SEO and get right. Not so good when you want an instant impact, but definitely needed rolling in the background.

 

So, what can you combine with SEO to speed up visits and sales?’

There are many tools including LinkedIn to bring awareness to the right people and you could use Twitter maybe? Another option here which is often overlooked is Google Ads, which can be combined quite nicely with SEO. Think about your target audience; the people who need what you’re offering. What search terms and keywords would they use on Google? These are the keywords you need to use in your Google Ads and your SEO. Now, this on its own is enough to produce sales conversions, but to really get the till ringing you need to think outside the box here, and that’s where the beauty of combining more marketing tools really comes into its own.

You can also bring in Facebook Pixel marketing to build an audience from the visitors you brought in via Google ads and SEO, from there you can then start to re-target them with Facebook Ads. Now you have yourself a completely targeted, specific marketing strategy that brings results!

You see, if you drive enough traffic to your landing page with Google Ads, SEO and other tools, you can then have a Facebook Pixel on your page. This will allow you to advertise on Facebook to only the people who have already visited your page/website through your Google ads.

You suddenly have a very targeted audience.

Woman Shopping On Her Phone

Bear in mind that engineers and buyers don’t always buy things the first time they see them, so no immediate sales or contact from your visitors doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to buy anything from you. How often do you browse products and services online, with the intention of going back to it later, but forget about it or get distracted by something else? By using Facebook Pixel marketing and Google Remarketing, you can show up as a graphical ad on other websites or as a Facebook Ad on the newsfeeds of people who have already searched for and looked at what you’re selling. Just watch your sales conversion rate sky rocket.

So to summarise this example; check your website, set up your Google Ads and SEO, apply a Facebook Pixel to your page/website, remarket to people who have already taken some kind of action on your website, then watch your sales increase. Simple, right?

For more information or help with engineering marketing, get in touch with our clever team of people at Brookstone Innovation.


WooCommerce or Shopify

Shopify or WooCommerce for your e-commerce store?

There are lots of eCommerce solutions on the market these days. Two of the current market leaders are Shopify, an all in one solution, and WooCommerce, which is based on the WordPress platform.  But although both of these software packages do the same job, in many ways they are worlds apart.

WooCommerce Dashboard

WooCommerce, working alongside WordPress, can in many ways be considered to be an effective eCommerce solution. But you’ll need to have quite a good understanding of the inner workings of websites to get these platforms put together and working how you’d like. There are lots of technical settings that you’ll need to be aware of and be able to tweak. And the setup of one website never seems to be the same for the next one, as each one tends to have its own idiosyncrasies.

But having said that, when WooCommerce and WordPress have been put together by a developer to create an eCommerce website, it’s a relatively straightforward task for the shop owner to edit the site themselves. That doesn’t mean that it‘s easy to edit. But with some basic knowledge, or some tuition, it’s certainly manageable.

Shopify Dashboard

Shopify, on the other hand, takes care of a lot of the technical elements for you. So although it’s far from easy to put a Shopify eCommerce site together, it’s still much easier than WooCommerce and WordPress. And for the shop owner, when it comes to editing and the general day to day running of the website, it’s a much easier process than WooCommerce.

WordPress with WooCommerce is an eCommerce platform with almost infinite customisation. In fact, you can create almost anything you want given the right technical know-how. On top of this, you own the website outright, so you can move it to any hosting providers that accept WordPress sites. You can adjust the styling, adapt the functionality and change almost all of the coding, if you so wish. In fact, you can make the website look pretty much any way you want it to, provided that you have the coding ability.

But even if you don’t have knowledge of coding, there are thousands of different plugins, and variations of plugins available. They allow you to make the website do almost anything that you could possibly want it to do. There’s some very good technical help available online too, although there are no easy options to get any official support for your WooCommerce site. You would have to build it yourself, or get a web developer to build it for you, in which case your developer could help with any problems you run into. But essentially, your WooCommerce website is very much your own site. It’s your site to look after and if there are any problems with it, it’s usually your responsibility to get them fixed.

WooCommerce or Shopify

Shopify works in a completely different way. With this platform, it’s more a case of renting a Shopify website, rather than owning it outright. The platform offers a limited number of themes, or templates which are available for purchase and development. But even after purchasing a theme, you won’t be able to dig too far into it to make changes, unless you’re an officially accredited Shopify coder. That’s because the platform keep a very tight rein on its themes and plugins. The benefit of this approach for website owners is that they aren’t involved in any maintenance whatsoever. They can access their website, add products, alter prices and get on with the business of selling. They won’t have to worry about any technical issues or spend time fixing problems.

Shopify host all their own websites, so you don’t even have to worry about that aspect of your site. But keep in mind that you won’t actually own your site, and you can’t decide to move it to another hosting service. So if you ever decide to move away from Shopify, you’ll have to export all of your products and take them elsewhere – you can’t take the website with you.

Without doubt, Shopify is one of the most effective ways of selling products online. It’s one of the few platforms that’s been built exclusively for eCommerce purposes, and it has some excellent themes and plugins. But if you’re looking for something different, you’ll find yourself stuck, unless you’re prepared to pay an accredited developer to build you something specific. And there might be times when your developer tells you they can’t action your request, as Shopify simply doesn’t have that capability.

But having said that, plenty of top eCommerce stores use Shopify, and the platform is robust enough to cover just about any type, or size, of online shop. Business owners pay a monthly subscription to Shopify, and although some basic plugins are free, most of the decent ones have recurring monthly charges. That’s how Shopify and its partners make their money. Depending on your requirements you might need five, six or even ten plugins, so be sure to factor in these costs when considering which eCommerce platform to choose.

On the flip side, WooCommerce and WordPress are open-source platforms. That means anyone can create tools and plugins for it, giving access to a massive range of options.

So which platform should you choose for eCommerce website? Your ultimate choice will depend on several factors.

But the important questions to ask are these:

  • Do you want a website that you can customise whenever you choose?
  • Do you want to own it outright?
  • Do you want to be able to take it to a different hosting provider?
  • Do you like to tinker with your site, making additions and changes?

If you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to all these questions, then WooCommerce and WordPress should be the route you take.

WooCommerce Logo
  • Or do you want an eCommerce website that’s set up for you?
  • Would you rather not bother with maintenance and technical issues?
  • Do your prefer to concentrate on selling your products?
  • Do you want a store that you can set up and leave, apart from updating stock and prices?

Answering  ‘Yes’ to these questions indicates that a Shopify website could be your best option.

Shopify Logo

Building an E-Commerce Community

Warning... This post can seriously increase your online sales.

The issue

Trying to sell online amongst a sea of cheaper competitors!

Continually reducing prices and fighting with suppliers for better discounts is a lazy way to do business and it’s simply a race to the bottom. This post will show you another way to beat your competitors to those all-important sales, but it will require some effort from you.

It can’t have escaped your notice just how competitive the internet has become these days. There seem to be more and more businesses competing against each other, so it’s not easy to define new ways of standing out from the crowd. Although If you’re selling a service then you might arguably have a slight advantage when it comes to highlighting your unique selling points and features.

The well known solutions

If you’re in the business of selling products and commodities, you can still put yourself ahead of your competitors. You might all be selling the same cutting tool brands for example, but you can still be ahead of the crowd with a bit of forward planning. One way of doing this is to spend a lot of money on your marketing, getting to the top of the search results and hoping that people will click on your website first. Another option is to look at being the cheapest supplier of that product. Or perhaps you could offer the cheapest delivery? How about the fastest delivery?

A better solution

The ideas listed above are valid and should not be ignored, but there’s another really good way for eCommerce companies and distributors to sell products that other distributors are also selling. And that’s to build a community.

By that I mean you need to start providing a lot of useful information about your products and how they fit in within your sector. So going back to our example of cutting tools, the chances are that prospective buyers will already be in the business of cutting metal. They may be in the aerospace sector cutting exotic materials, or perhaps they’re in the plastics sector machining injection mould tools.

Drill Bits

Product reviews and testing

Producing informative posts on those subjects and product tests can help you to tap into the community of people who are most likely to be interested in those cutting tools. They may even be already using the product that you’re selling. So you don’t need to be the cheapest supplier, or spend lots of marketing money trying to reach the top of Google. Instead you work your way towards becoming an authority on that product and how those products work within the specific sectors. Video reviews shared through social media can be particularly effective for this, then you can generate a community of people around you that contribute to the information you’re providing. The members of that community will then begin talking with each other on social media about certain subjects, with you at the centre, holding that community together. When they require those products, they’ll tend to come to you instead of shopping around.

Study the product for them

Let’s go back to our cutting tools again. Your potential customer knows that you’ve been out there and thoroughly tested them for yourself. They can see that you’ve been answering questions about them, studied them in microscopic detail, explained the various features of them, gone through what you do and don’t like about them and their USP. So the people within your community, and visitors who come to your store, will feel reassured that you know what you’re talking about. And this is helped by the fact that there are so many people talking about you, your services, your business and the products that you sell. You’ll be seen as a safe and reputable business, and customers will want to purchase from you.

Man Holding Shoes

What could you do right now?

So ask yourself, what could you be doing to build an online community? What knowledge and insights can you provide about your products and services that will add extra value for your customers? How can you best encourage people to engage with you so that you can promote your brand to the best effect? Perhaps you could start the ball rolling with a Facebook group and take it from there?

If you’re stuck for ideas on getting started with building an online community, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We have a wealth of experience in getting brands noticed, and we’d be delighted to help your business reach new heights.

The Engineers Guide To Marketing - Part 1
Richard Stinson

For more information on marketing your engineering business get in touch with Richard, he has over 15 years marketing experience, many of those gained within the engineering sector itself.


Marketing results

The engineers guide to marketing - part 1

A common theme I keep coming across with engineers and manufacturers, is that they don’t really understand how to market what they do. They go online and see other companies with their nice, posh products – a pair of trainers, a handbag, some fancy chocolates – advertising them on Instagram and Facebook, and generally milking it with their digital marketing. But when it comes to their own marketing, engineers often feel stuck for ideas.

I totally get this. I’ve been there myself within the engineering industry, and it’s not easy. But what I would say is that the principles of marketing your product remain the same, no matter what industry you’re in. I’m going to walk you through the first few steps here, and then make a few suggestions following on from that.

It starts with a client avatar

Build Your Customer Profile

I always recommend starting out by building a client avatar. And by that, I mean think about your perfect customers. You may or may not already have some, but you need to define them in as much detail as possible.

  • What kind of parts would they buy?
  • How much money would they spend with you?
  • Are they male? Female? Does it even matter?
  • What age group are they?
  • What country are they based in?
  • What sector are they in?
  • What are their stress points?
  • What typical problems and issues do they have?
  • Where do they go to ask questions online?
  • Where do they go to network?

The more questions you can answer about them, the more you’ll come to understand them. And once you fully understand your perfect customer, you can focus on how to get the right message in front of them. You’ll also be able to determine where to target your messages too, so it really does all begin with the client avatar.

What does your website say about you?

My next point is one that’s often missed by every sector, and that’s the website itself. People generally tend to completely undervalue their websites, failing to appreciate what they can actually do for them. But a ‘that’ll do’ approach isn’t going to drive business forward. And it’s usually the case that when people don’t see much return from their website, they assume it’s not worth investing any more in it.

Well that’s not the case. The website is at the hub of all your marketing, so if it hasn’t worked for you in the past it’s going to be down to one of two reasons:

1 Not enough of the right people know where it is, or how to find your site.

2 The site isn’t good enough and doesn’t create the right impression about your company.

If your factory has high-end equipment and is kept so clean that you could eat off the floor, the website needs to reflect that. The site should be beautiful to look at, clean and uncluttered, with plenty of eye-catching detail and images.

But on the flip side, plenty of companies mass produce very cheap products. They do business with customers that don’t expect a clean, pristine environment. But that doesn’t mean you can have a scruffy or untidy website. Your site needs to be clean, uncluttered and with a modern look and feel. Remember, your site reflects who you are, and should be appealing to your ideal customer.

In fact there are two key areas on an engineering website that are really important:

The first is images of the factory, inside and out. So many companies miss this bit out, often because they’re embarrassed by the look of the building. But it’s self-defeating as it’s going to put plenty of people off contacting you. There’s always at least one angle, both inside and outside your premises that will provide a photo opportunity.

engineering
engineering

The other thing that’s often missing is the type of products that you make. And notice that I use the words ‘type of products’ – often there are NDAs attached to products, so you’re not allowed to show what you’re making for other customers. But there’s nothing to stop you from making some similar items, just for demonstration purposes. This will show people what type of products you manufacture, what your technical capability is and what you’re really good at.

engineering marketing

These two points are really important, because it’s how people will judge you. They’ll assess whether or not to do business with you based on your premises, your machinery, how clean and tidy your site is and the type of products that you manufacture. So if you can put a tick against all of these elements, then you’re already half-way there with your website.

First steps in marketing

So now we have our client avatar and we have a decent website. But where on earth do we market an engineering company?

There are several answers to this question because it depends on the type of industry you’re in and who you’re trying to get in front of. But one great way for engineering companies to begin their marketing is through LinkedIn.

LinkedIn marketing for engineers

Linkedin Engineering marketing

Now two of the biggest mistakes that people make with LinkedIn is that they expect immediate results, and they try to sell to people straight away. But rather than being promotional, you should use LinkedIn like a networking platform. It gives you the chance to engage with people who wouldn’t normally answer the phone to you. Being careful about who you connect with and the connections you allow, you’ll build up an impressive network of contacts. And over time, they’ll see the posts, information and help that you’re contributing on the platform, and be impressed by what you’re providing.

Notice that I used the word ‘help’ there – that’s one of the key things about LinkedIn. If you can be engaging, helping people with problems and making suggestions, rather than trying to sell them something, it will earn their respect. And it will help to put you right at the front of the queue when eventually they’re ready to start doing business.

But the key thing with LinkedIn isn’t about selling products or services. It’s about gently and slowly selling a meeting. That meeting could take place over the phone or face to face. And the really great thing about the platform is that once you start engaging with the right kind of people, you can start running some LinkedIn adverts too, which can produce some very useful results.

Facebook marketing for engineers

Facebook engineering marketing

When it comes to Facebook, people tend to be under the misconception that engineers don’t use this platform. They do. They use Facebook all the time. They’re just not using it within working hours, as they reserve it for their own personal use. But it’s still the same person, just in a different situation.

With Facebook it isn’t so much about the posts that you’re putting out on your page. It’s all about the paid adverts that you’re creating because you can be extremely selective about who gets to see them. And the key thing is to make those ads enjoyable. Forget about being strictly B2B, or promoting your new-fangled cutting tool or chuck system or vice. Instead, focus on making your ads light and engaging, encouraging communication with your audience. Aim to appeal to their personal side, rather than their business side. That doesn’t mean you need to devalue what you do – just do it in a lighter way that isn’t directly selling to people.

Pixel Remarketing, also known as Pixel Retargeting, allows you to be incredibly selective in the adverts you show to specific groups of people. For instance, you have a Hot list and a Cold list of people. On the Cold list are people who don’t know about you, who haven’t yet been to your website. The Hot list is people that have been on your site, and Pixel Retargeting allows you to direct your adverts exclusively to them.

Facebook Pixel marketing

One of the key things about engineers is that they love movement. They love to see things being manufactured and cut. So instead of just showing them a cutting tool, show them that cutting tool in action. Show them the laser machine in action, and that CNC five-axis machine in action, rather than just showing a static picture. At this point, your potential customer isn’t going to be too interested in the facts and figures. So all that’s needed is a headline, some bullet points and the movement of something being made. That’s the way to engage with engineers.

CNC Laser Photography Engineering

A key aspect of any successful marketing strategy is results tracking. And the beauty of digital marketing, whether it’s your website or your Facebook Ads, is that you can track what’s working for you. And over time you can work out which adverts, which strategies and which products are yielding the best results. That enables you to determine where to focus your marketing, making sure that you focus on thoses aspects that give the best return on investment.

This article is only skimming the surface of the marketing options available for engineers. If you’d like more ideas, information, or even a marketing strategy report for your individual business, we’d be more than willing to help. Please get in touch for a no-obligation chat.

Richard Stinson

For more information on marketing your engineering business get in touch with Richard, he has over 15 years marketing experience, many of those gained within the engineering sector itself.